B&O Beoplay H9i Headphones hands-on



Bang and Olufsеn is a name that's well established in the audio industry, so most people know what to expect with its line of premium headphones. The B&O Beoplay H9i is the company's latest offering in the high-end segment of over-the-ear styled wireless Bluetooth headphones, featuring luxuries such as active noise cancellation, an aluminum touch interface, and a premium design to die for. For the $499 cost that's attached to the H9i, is it even worth splurging on when you factor all the other alternatives out there?

When you're spending so much on a pair of headphones, at the very least, most people are expecting something truly satisfying. Not surprisingly, the Beoplay H9i hits the mark squarely in the bullseye with its premium construction. The majority of its frame is comprised out of anodized aluminum, giving it an incredible about of durability – while also adding to its solid looks. Complementing that, the headband is wrapped in leather with that distinctive stitching pattern outlining the frame. And lastly, the earcups consist of memory foam wrapped in soft lambskin.

In terms of features, the Beoplay H9i comes equipped with active noise cancellation, which can only be enabled/disabled by using the integrated touch controls with the headphones. There's also transparency mode, too, which amplifies ambient sound using its built-in mics to provide us with enhanced hearing. Therefore, if someone were to speak to us, rather than removing the headphones to listen to them, we can turn on this feature to amplify their voice.

Given how the Beoplay H9i is positioned as an ultra-premium offering in the headphones space, it manages employ a slightly different implementation with its on-board playback controls than what we'd find in other headphones. All of its controls are in fact accessed through the outer area of the right earcup, which are incorporated into aluminum plate that's there.

Specifically, the it features a touch sensitive area that allows us to execute a host of commands through the aid of various gestures. For example, swiping left/right will reverse/forward the track – while moving our finger clockwise/counter clockwise will adjust the volume. And finally, we can enable/disable active noise cancellation and transparency modes by simply swiping up/down.

Bang & Olufsen's signature sound quality is showcased profoundly here with the H9i, conjuring up a pleasant mixture of clear vocals and distinct percussions in many Linkin Park tracks we listened to – all while the bass acts complementary to the experience. The 40mm drivers powering the headphones are not bass heavy like many of the mainstream headphones out there in the space, but we really dig how all audio ranges seem to balance each other out. Making the experience even better, the custom equalizer settings offered through the app allows us to tune the performance to our liking. That's no doubt useful, especially when each individual has a different preference – so being able to adjust it is especially useful.

The $499 sticker price of the Beoplay H9i is just crazy expensive, to the point that it's limiting its reach to the masses. This surely isn't what we'd consider to be a mainstream option, primarily because its expensive cost makes it nearly impossible to compete directly against headphones priced in the $300 range. And to tell you the truth, there are several headphones in that category that offer nearly the same set of features as this. Like we said earlier, if you're all about establishing your status, the Beoplay H9i will undeniably ensure that. From the name of the brand, to its premium design, and its excellent audio performance, the Beoplay H9i is the sort of thing you'd buy to reach that status symbol level.

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4 Comments

1. Skizzo

Posts: 403; Member since: Jul 14, 2013

As a huge fan of the H6's, I'm excited to try these, although as you mentioned, the price is hard to justify considering the alternatives. They look great. Typical B&O elegant design.

2. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

Now these are real headphones from a proper audio brand, instead of buying audio products from brands that doesn't even specialize in it, which unsurprisingly result in a subpar sound quality experience. B&O is not about compromises or being "good enough" for the average consumer, such as the products that Samsung, Apple, Beats, Bose and Google makes. That's why B&O design and build quality is better than anything else out there, in my opinion. Headphones from brands such as Bose, Sony, AKG, Beats, Apple and Samsung all produce plastic headphones, which just feels incredibly cheap in comparison. This also shines through in the sound quality, which is simply better than what you typically get from the competitors. B&O has been experts within audio since 1925, so they have done audio long before Apple or Samsung even existed. These are also one of the few headphone designs out there that actually looks better in colours that aren't just generic black, as a generic black would hide the design, which no one should be doing. Just look at them in this Natural color scheme:https://tubby.scene7.com/is/image/tubby/BEOPLAYH9INA?$prod_all4one$ I'm saying this as a guy who originally thought that B&O was simply overpriced, until i tried a pair of Beoplay H6 2nd Gen. Not only did they beat everything else i tried, but they were also cheaper than a significant number of the headphones i tried. B&O still has overpriced products, but their Beoplay sub-brand is worth the money, as it targets the more mainstream audience. /Rant over (About time you review B&O products Phonearena!)

3. TMach unregistered

I stopped reading after the second "Olufson", the company is Bang and Olufsen...! I couldn't possibly read on when the reviewer cannot even get the manufacturer's name right!!!

4. Krjal

Posts: 431; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

Will you be doing a full review? I'd love to know more about the audio quality over Bluetooth using different codecs. Aptx, LDAC?

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